The opening line in the movie “Bella” is, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” As I’ve reflected on our plans, about three years ago, to move from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest and consider how that matches up with how things have actually gone, this thought has seemed most fitting.
Our present circumstances are quite different than what we had in mind and some might look at this and say, “Yes, God’s laughing … in derision.” That isn’t the way I see it though. First, that isn’t accurate of God’s nature. There’s nothing to indicate that He would laugh in derision at anyone, especially not at His own children. I think a more correct understanding of God’s laughter is along the lines of my spontaneous laughter when I’m working in my home-office and I turn to see our Corgi/Pug in the easy chair behind me, laying upside-down, displaying total inhibition and relaxation. I laugh because his sweet, innocent, unconditionally loving nature lightens my heart and I delight in loving the little character. Second, while having our plans not work out as we had in mind can be challenging, we rejoice in knowing what God tells us about His plans for us – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11. We’re thankful that God is in our lives and that His plans are far better than we can begin to imagine.
For me, the best example of this, in our present circumstances, is how things are working out for us in our jobs. Basically, our plan was for me to find a job where my years of experience could “make a difference” in a Consultative Sales organization. For Ruth, our plan was for her to be in a position to not work unless she just wanted to.
Frankly, I don’t have an understanding of the “end-game” that God is going for in His plan for my work but I can see that He is doing a lot more than I had in mind. With my plan, I would’ve found the right job within the first couple of months and I would only have developed relationships with my coworkers, as well as with my company’s business contacts. Instead, God’s plan has led me to enthusiastically strive to become more and more a part of the local business community. In the process, I’ve become a part of several local business and social organizations, I’ve developed relationships with hundreds of people in the local business community, I’ve refreshed many existing relationships and I’ve renewed numerous relationships where I’d been “out of touch”, in some cases for many years. I’ve, also, honed skills and done a lot of learning, which will enable me to perform on the job in ways that I couldn’t have without having gone through these circumstances.
For me, what has happened with Ruth’s work has been the most exciting though. I suppose that’s because God’s “end-game” with this is easier to see. At first, Ruth decided that she wanted to work in sort of a “Temp” capacity, because she was getting bored. Then, as I’ve continued to struggle in finding a “right fit” job for me, she decided to accept the offer of a full-time position, to provide some hedge against my circumstances harming our financial future. The position she accepted has her working with elementary-school-aged children who have chronic emotional and behavioral problems. Of course, the nature of that work means I must be very circumspect in sharing information about it. Let it suffice to say that, when we discuss her day, we often find ourselves responding to the circumstances that these kids live in by saying, “Without God, he/she doesn’t stand a chance.” To me, its clear that one way God is making sure they get a chance is by touching them through Ruth and that He has much more in mind with this than just guarding our nest egg.
So, we’re pretty sure that the plans we made have resulted in God’s laughter. Since, unlike God, we can’t see the end from the beginning, that makes some days more challenging than others. But, in general, it keeps us reminded of a personal slogan I pulled out of a song that a wonderful Christian Sister sang at our wedding, years ago, in Huntington Beach. The slogan is, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know Who holds tomorrow and we’re safe in His hands.” Knowing this and that God’s laughter is really the result of His love for us, lightens our hearts and keeps us moving forward, in faith.